Nick Sheehan

Nick Sheehan
June 2, 2020 Active


As the Active Tree Services Health and Safety advisor for South Australia and the Northern Territory, Nick Sheehan readily acknowledges his best days at work are the ones where he’s needed the least.

It’s not that Nick doesn’t love his job, but rather the quiet days indicate the company’s commitment to health and safety is paying off and its mantra of ‘everyone home safe every day’ is being achieved.

That’s no small feat in an industry that ticks many boxes of a high-risk environment. Between high-voltage powerlines, heavy machinery, and working at height with sophisticated cutting equipment, Active Tree Services has long acknowledged its need to go above and beyond in terms of training and a company-wide culture of safety.

“My role is to assist the operations team drive, that the safety culture in South Australia and the
NT are at the forefront of everything we do” Nick explains.

His job encompasses supporting operations to deliver a safe, sustainable and reliable service and provide risk advice and support to Operations. This is in order to promote excellence and maximise company performance through continuous improvement of HSEQ and risk. This is achieved by supervisor mentoring, field operator support, on-site audits, incident reporting as well as assisting staff return to work after an injury.

It also involves staying abreast of changing safety regulations, while ensuring those guidelines are passed onto crews quickly, clearly and in a streamlined way.

“Some of my favourite days on the job involved watching everyone work together. When you’re supervising or working with a crew and you’re finishing a feeder or completing a package of work as a group, well that’s awesome to see.”

Nick explains he took on the role of HSEQ advisor just over a year ago, but is fortunate to bring almost a decade of field experience at Active to the role.

“In November this year I will have been with Active for 10 years, and honestly it’s the best company I’ve ever worked for. If you put in the effort and work hard to better yourself, you will be rewarded. For me and many of my peers this has been an internal promotion which is a credit to
the company” he says.

Nick’s time with Active began as a short break from the hospitality industry where he managed pubs and bars.

“At that stage I was burnt out by the long hours and at the point where I felt it wasn’t for me anymore,” he says.

He knew someone contracted to Active and initially signed on with a view to working six-months.

“I got through the first summer and thought ‘I could do this’, then came the winter when I wondered ‘can I really do this?’ but before too long it was clear I enjoyed working in the outdoors far more than being three feet behind a bar, standing in a couple of inches of beer.”

Like most people, Nick started out as a chipper, and worked his way up to EWP operator. He then enjoyed a stint as a scoper and a jarraff operator before being offering the position of team leader.

Three years ago, Nick became a supervisor and notes it was a role he thoroughly enjoyed.

“Looking after, managing and supporting the guys was hugely rewarding,” he reflects.

“Some of my favourite days on the job involved watching everyone work together. When you’re supervising or working with a crew and you’re finishing a feeder or completing a package of work as a group, well that’s awesome to see.”

These days, his field experience and the fact he personally knows most of the SA and NT crews stands him in good stead in his role as a safety advisor.

Not only does Nick appreciate the safety perspective, he has real-life experience of the challenges and skills involved in the field.

“I took on the safety role a year ago and love it. The Operations team run a tight ship in SA and the NT, are very supportive and drive a very safety conscious environment which makes my job easier.
I’ve got an amazing team of safety staff that’s doubled from three to six in a year, which says a lot about how committed to safety Active is. We also enjoy a great relationship with SA Power Net

While the company and culture are highlights of his role, Nick notes it’s the people of Active that
make it an outstanding work environment.

“I’m lucky to know the crews personally and really enjoy the opportunity to catch up and offer support or see where I can assist,” he says.

And when it comes down to personal achievement, Nick notes he measures his job performance by the absence of incidents in the field.

“In many ways the boring days are the most rewarding because it means the guys are doing the right thing – that they’re taking workplace health and safety seriously, and they’re looking after themselves and their mates.”